Inspired by a discussion on one of the listservs, I think it’s time to confess.
“I don’t like other people’s libraries.”
Well okay so that’s not strictly true. Let me rephrase.
“I don’t like walking into library buildings where I don’t know any of the staff or where any of the collections are.”
Hhm. That’s still not quite right…
“I get nervous when I walk into a building that I am unfamiliar with especially if it’s a busy library with shelves stretching off into the distance and signage that can’t be read.”
That’s a bit better. Of course, maybe I’m not the right person to be making this complaint. My opinion is skewed because I work in libraries. If I’m visiting another library it’s usually in the company of other librarians who then point out all the cool bits of the building or I’m there for a meeting so I whisk through the public areas straight to the meeting room. (In fact, I’ve got so good at doing that at one library that the security guard no longer blinks if I’m there out of opening hours.)
I hardly ever walk into a library as a customer. It happens occasionally. Like… if I’m out of town and I need to kill a couple of hours.* A library is usually a pretty safe bet for a place to provide somewhere to sit and something to read without asking anything in exchange. I personally find it intimidating to walk into a library space.
If I feel like that – how do our customers find it? For that matter – how do you feel when you walk into an unfamiliar library?
* I try not to go into libraries while I’m on holiday – I always end up straightening the books.